Ralph L. Starling
Three kingdoms are revealed and described more or less in detail in the New Testament.
The Devil’s Kingdom
The first is noted in the letter to the Colossians. Paul, speaking of God, says, “Who hath delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love” (Col 1:13). There was some spiritual rule or dominion which Paul called “the power of darkness.” In another place he called it “the darkness of this world.” (Eph. 6:12).
A kingdom is ruled or governed by a head, called a king. It is from this that the term kingdom comes. If there is a spiritual dominion of an evil nature, it is natural to expect it to have some governing head, or king. Such is the case. This king is spoken of by Jesus when he says, “If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand?” (Luke 11:18). It is by Satan, then, that this kingdom of spiritual darkness is governed. It was of this ruler that the Lord further said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). With a king of this character, it is not surprising to learn that the kingdom is made up of evil, sin, wickedness of all sorts, degrees, and varieties. It was through Satan that sin entered the earth; it is through him that it is perpetuated.
If we choose, we may become citizens of Satan’s kingdom. As a matter of fact vast multitudes are citizens of his kingdom, and have aligned themselves on the side that degrades men rather than builds them up, brings sadness instead of joy, and hate instead of love. We find that:
…the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like; of the which I tell you, as I have also told you in the past, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:19).
In contrast to Satan’s kingdom is the kingdom of Christ, also mentioned in the Colossian letter. This “kingdom of the Son of his love” is often referred to in the Gospels as the “kingdom of heaven” but throughout the rest of the New Testament it is usually called simply “the church.” Christ is the Head, or King, and was placed in this position by God Himself. “Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, 0 God, is forever and forever. A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom” (Heb. 1:8). All authority has been given to Christ according to His own statement. (Matt. 28:18-19.) This complete rule is further indicated in the words of Hebrews, “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not under him” (Heb. 2:8).
The nature of Christ’s kingdom is the very opposite of that of the kingdom of Satan. “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore, God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (Heb. 1:9). The fruit of the Spirit “is love, joy,’ peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law” (Gal 55:22-23). Satan’s kingdom represents all that is evil, while Christ’s kingdom represents all that is good.
How to Enter Christ’s Kingdom
How may one become a member of this kingdom of Christ? That, too, is clear and easily understood. When a fearful man cried out, “What must I do to be saved?” he was told to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). The Apostle Peter, in answering this same inquiry, put to him by men who already believed, replied, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38). When a penitent believer has confessed his faith in Christ (Rom. 10:10; Matt. 10:32), he is no longer a fit subject for the devil’s kingdom, but is ready to take the final and culminating step which will bring him into the kingdom of Christ. That step is baptism. Paul says, “For in one Spirit were ye all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13); and further, “Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (Rom. 6:3).
Having become citizens of the kingdom of Christ, it is our duty as faithful and worthy servants to carry out the instruction given, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection… “ (Heb. 6:1.)
The Eternal Kingdom
The third kingdom referred to in the New Testament is called “the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:11). It is the same kingdom we have just discussed, except that at the last day the Kingship shall be passed to another—from Christ to God. Christ will no longer rule as King with all authority, but will deliver up,
the kingdom to God, even the Father when he shall have put down all rule and authority and power. For he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death…And when all things shall be subjected unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject to him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:24-25 28).
Therefore, God shall be all in all, King of the kingdom. Naturally, we all desire to be a part of that eternal kingdom. The way into it is made manifest. If we are faithful citizens and servants in Christ’s kingdom on this earth, then we shall be given the “abundant entrance” into the everlasting kingdom. When Peter set forth the Christian virtues, he concluded by saying “Brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure, for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord am Savior, Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:10-11).
Thus, we have the three kingdoms before us—that of Satan, of Christ, and the everlasting kingdom of God It is left to each of us to make a choice as to which kingdom we accept on this earth, whether of Satan or of Christ. But let every man remember that once his choice is made on this earth, by the same token, his choice is made for eternity. Which shall it be?